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Tomaga are always a fierce prospect live, where their combination of percussion, organ and electronics has been blowing audiences away for years. Happily, they can recreate that power on record too: The Shape Of The Dance is their second full-length album, and takes a minimalist approach that sometimes recalls Oneida (this is the highest of compliments). Released by Hands In The Dark.

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The Shape Of The Dance by TOMAGA
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8/10 Robin Staff review, 07 September 2016

There’s no shape -- only shifts. Over a slew of different chemically reactive releases, Tomaga have toyed with noises free and beats disciplined, changing the course of their minimalism to suit their mood. Rather than go again on the free, open world exploration that marked ‘Familiar Obstacles’ and ‘Futura Grotesk’, this new record unravels into a particular quest line, becoming their most focused and narratively driven work.

It’s still weird, of course, but this time it sounds like they’re at least trying to generate shape. The techno smatterings of “Tuscan Metalwork” shift into a nauseating woodwind flurry on “Stone Comb”, the percussion suddenly being suspended in mid-air as if part of the same suite of sound. The record’s title track, while recalling their sewage minimalism -- bleeping alarm ‘scapes, a tin-can drumbeat and a general air of production that makes you feel like you’re walking down a corridor of watery sludge -- feels focused and ascending, as if the band are more interested in the groove than, you know, wrecking it.

The shape might not be clear, but the setting is: this is gutter dance, beneath-the-city rumblings that give any and all inclinations a dirge: the psychedelic bass groove of “A Perspective with No End” is given remote and darkened acoustics, its synth additives peaking in like light between the slits. “Four Ducks Dead” rattles and puffs like Beefheart with a bucket on his head, a percussively abstract interlude that seems to halt progress before it can begin. When Tomaga hit a sweet spot, it’s always two step backwards before one gets forward, but on ‘The Shape of the Dance’, the journey feels strangely cohesive.


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